New Zealand: Widespread opposition to asset sales

The New Zealand government is rushing through the sale of Meridian Energy for NZ$1 billion less than the $3.1 billion needed to reach its goal of raising at least $5 billion from asset sales.

It is moving ahead wit the sale widespread public opposition and criticism ranging from opposition parties to investment bankers.

Meridian Energy Limited, a state-owned electricity generator and retailer, is expected to divest 49% of its shares as part of a government privatisation program.

A recent petition gathered over 327,000 valid signatures in opposition to the planned asset sales and called for a citizens-initiated referendum.

Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman said: “John Key is arrogantly rushing the Meridian sale when he should be waiting for Kiwis to have their say in the asset sales referendum.”

Labour Party state-owned enterprises spokesperson Clayton Cosgrove said: “The asset sales programme is pure ideology and is seriously flawed economically.”